Originally Posted by SJS
First of all, Spofforth did not bowl at 90 mph. He did bowl some very quick balls but most of the time he wasnt above fast medium.
Secondly, wicket keepers did not stand up to him all the time.
Finally, why do you assume he wasn't as accurate as McGrath ?
By the way, while keepers are most diificult to compare over a century since the change in wickets/ground conditions, dramatic change in protective equipment has changed the way in which keepers approach the job more than the other disciplines.
The long stop was one of the most important fielders in the side at one time. It appears laughable today and one would wonder what kind of nincompoops were keeping wickets if the best fielder had to be posted right behind the keeper almost on the fence. Well that has to do more with quality of wickets to start with than anything else.
Blackham became the first wicket keeper to stand up AND dispense with the long stop. It was looked at incredulously by the cricketing fraternity. It was unheard of. So whatever we say of standards, comparing to those days and the conditions as pevailed then, he must have been tremendous.
Bradman once saw a pair of gloves belonging to this "Prince amongst wicket-keepers" and was amazed at how little protection they offered. He writes ...
"He must have been stoic to have kept in them. Without doubt a modern player would have had his hands ruined if he was to use them for any length of time against fast bowling."